Next up in our series of MLS previews before the league kicks off on Saturday is the Vancouver Whitecaps taking on Minnesota United.
In last season’s MLS, the ‘Caps narrowly missed out on a play-off spot by just two points, finishing in 8th on 47 points. Minnesota however, finished the season by losing their last four fixtures and down in 10th, 11 points worse-off than their Western rivals, on 36 points.
The last two seasons have seen the home team come out on top when these two from the Western Conference face each other. The last, at the end of July last year, saw Vancouver thump Minnesota 4-2 and had raced to a 3-0 lead before Minnesota showed some fightback. The fixture prior to this, only two months earlier, saw a 10-man Minnesota come out as 1-0 victors in their backyard.
It was in the 4-2 Whitecaps win where the rest of the world was reminded about the brilliance of Alphonso Davies, who scored a brace and walked away from BC Place as the Man of the Match; Davies has since joined Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
Davies has just been one of many departures for the ‘Caps as they head in a new direction under new coach, Marc Dos Santos with a big squad overhaul. Despite such a negative and uninspiring finish for the Loons however, they enter this season with the hopes of securing a push for play-off football as they head into the final year of their ‘three-year plan’.
The Canadians come into their season opener following a defeat to Los Angeles FC 1-0 last weekend and a 1-1 draw against Club Tijuana. Minnesota however, come in to this with a 1-0 win over third place Easter conference finishers, New York City as well a goalless draw against fellow Westerners, Houston Dynamo.
In terms of team news, it seems the Loons will be without Finlay and Molino both through knee injuries, whilst the ‘Caps’ Brazilian forward, PC, is questionable and expected to be evaluated on Saturday as to whether he’ll be fit enough to feature or not.
Here he is speaking on pre-season and the mentality of the Whitecaps:
Prediction: With this being such a new look Whitecaps side it’s hard to know what to really expect from them, especially after losing such a talent in Davies. Similarly, Minnesota’s end to the season is quite a worrying form signal for fans – yet their 1-0 pre-season win over NYC should reaffirm their hopes coming into their season opener at BC Place. I see this being a tight affair with plenty of goals — 2-2 for me.